The unspoken secret at the heart of the GOP report

Rereading the RNC’s post-election autopsy, I remain impressed by its candor and honesty. However, I am also struck by the limitations of its honesty, by the things that authors of the report were forced to leave unsaid because they would strike much too close to home.

In three separate sections, the report repeats the following statement, word for word:

“The Republican Party is one of tolerance and respect, and we need to ensure that the tone of our message is always reflective of these core principles.”

In four separate sections, when discussing outreach to groups outside the GOP’s current small tent, the document’s authors repeat a second statement, again word for word, as if proposing it as a mantra:

“We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate we care about them, too.”

“Tone” is also a word that pops up repeatedly as a major challenge.

– “Too often Republican elected officials spoke about issues important to the Hispanic community using a tone that undermined the GOP brand within Hispanic communities.”

– “The RNC must more effectively highlight our young leaders and fundamentally change the tone we use to talk about issues and the way we are communicating with voters.”

– On messaging, we must change our tone — especially on certain social issues that are turning off young voters.

Yet the report does not address the source of this clearly problematic tone. Is it some sort of accident, or maybe some cruel cosmic joke, that so many different groups feel aggrieved not only by the GOP message, but by how that message is communicated? (The report suggests that women and the legendary “47 percent” have likewise been given grounds to feel offended.)

If the tone is purely a matter of rhetorical style, then yes, it can be addressed through creation of what the report dubs the “Growth and Opportunity Inclusion Council.” Among other functions, the proposed council “will establish a training program available to all Republican candidates that would educate them on the particular culture, aspirations, positions on issues, contributions to the country, etc., of the demographic group they are trying to reach.”

That’s a laudable step. Unfortunately, the evidence strongly suggests that the problem runs much deeper than mere style. The GOP’s tone toward Hispanics, for example, is not some unexplainable phenomenon. It is instead an accurate reflection of a party base that is distrustful of and threatened by the Hispanic influx, and that expects its leaders to reflect that sentiment in its rhetoric. That’s not something that you can express “respectfully.” In fact, the same attitudes that drive the party’s tone toward Hispanics have driven its policies as well. Tone and policy are fruit of the same stem.

Likewise, the GOP’s tone and its policies toward the “47 percent” are predicated on a sneering lack of respect for those who for whatever reason have not yet managed to achieve the American dream. In the Republican world view, economic success is perceived as a legitimate, almost always accurate gauge of personal character. (Donald Trump ought to serve as a one-person repudiation of that theory, but for some reason does not.)

That belief sets up a reassuring logic circle: Those who need help are by definition not deserving of it. And those who are deserving of it clearly don’t need it. That’s the basic attitude of many in the base, and it is also the attitude driving the Ryan budget proposal. As long as that underlying attitude is reinforced by party leadership, trying to change the tone in which that disdain is expressed is like trying to teach a cow to ice skate.

To cite yet another example, the party’s harsh tone toward gay Americans reflects its harsh policies, and vice versa, because opposition to gay rights and gay people has been a uniting feature of the party for decades. It is impossible to expect the party as a whole to speak respectfully to and about gay Americans when in fact much of the party base does not feel that respect.

I don’t mean to disparage “inclusion councils” and other forms of attempted outreach. But the GOP’s tone toward those outside its circle will change only as its policies change, and the policies and tone together will change only as attitudes change.

For understandable reasons, those who drafted the report released today did not dare to press that point home.

– Jay Bookman

525 comments Add your comment

Skip

March 19th, 2013
7:42 am

Over two days the Cons prove Jay right, and they can’t see it. Disheartening.

Nobama

March 19th, 2013
7:42 am

Thomas

March 19th, 2013
7:43 am

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-schiffman/why-people-who-pray-are-heathier_b_1197313.html

Bloomberg’s next edict- everyone must pray. It is not a religious edict, it is because he cares about you and your health.

Brosephus™

March 19th, 2013
7:45 am

You bleeding heart liberals should be investing in gold, bullets and canned goods because when the 50% start coming over the walls you are going to need more of all 3. Just a short time til Nobama confiscates your $ a la Cyprus and redistributes it

Well, if you believe the crap that’s spewed here, the bleeding heart liberals will be the one’s coming over the wall. Seems that YOU should be the one making those investments and watching your six. Then again, most of the crap spewed here has little to no connection to reality anyway.

Nobama

March 19th, 2013
7:52 am

Bro – I DO believe it

TiredOfIt

March 19th, 2013
7:56 am

Republicans should double down on their current positions and not be influenced by corporate media. Ted Cruz 2016

hayden1946

March 19th, 2013
7:57 am

It really won’t matter what the Republicans do…if we continue to:

–spend more than we take in
–think that every non-achiever has been given a bad deal
–try to get everybody in the country employed by the government
–ignore the fact that folks like Carlos Slim owns the POTUS and those folks love welfare of all kinds, especially the corporate kind

then there won’t be a country for anybody to govern. And folks like Bill Maher, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson will be living somewhere else. And Jay’s last column will justify Bill and Tiger doing it…

UNCLE SAMANTHA

March 19th, 2013
8:03 am

WHY DOES A LIBERAL OBSESS OVER WHAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS DOING?

MICHAEL SAVAGE SAYS ITS BECAUSE

UNCLE SAMANTHA

March 19th, 2013
8:04 am

LIBERALISM IS A MENTAL DISORDER!

Doggone/GA

March 19th, 2013
8:07 am

“then there won’t be a country for anybody to govern”

Ye of little faith

Peadawg

March 19th, 2013
8:10 am

“WHY DOES A LIBERAL OBSESS OVER WHAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IS DOING?”

Same reason why Republicans are on this blog obsessing over liberals.

Skip

March 19th, 2013
8:10 am

Here we see the problem with the new Con outreach, it’s too hard to fake.

stands for decibels

March 19th, 2013
8:10 am

I see there be Rand Sheetz, but…

Then again, I don’t have an affinity for any of those talking a$$hats and avoid them like the plague.

It’s funny that Maher comes up over and over again when the discussion gets to Rush (yes, I’ve played in this tiresome match before, not with Thulsa though, I don’t think). I think a lot of conservatives project their own (perhaps) guilty pleasure of enjoying Rush onto most liberals digging Maher.

Here’s my thing with Maher, in no particular order because I’m lazy and don’t wanna prioritize:

1. he is on HBO. You gotta pay for HBO. I never have paid for a premium cable channel ever and don’t plan to. Hence for many years I only saw him if someone else happened to have him on. I barely even know his schtick.

2. I saw his movie “Religulous.” As something of a religious skeptic myself I was inclined to view it favorably. I thought it basically sucked. A few funny bits, but not even half as coherent as, say, Michael Moore at his worst. And the thing is, it could have been great, and he could’ve been the guy to pull it off.

3. I saw Maher interviewed a few years back on some political talk show. He came off as more Libertarian than I’d ever like; he did the false equivalency bullsh-t about Dems. I’ve not really liked him since.

4. I think I’ll go look up to see how many people actually see his show in a given week… [googling] ok, looks like he manages about 1.1 million. That’s more than I’d thought. But it’s about one tenth what Limbagh gets, 5x/week, tuned in anywhere in the USA. And in terms of the 18-49 market, he comes in behind a Seinfeld re-run. Just to keep this guy’s reach in perspective.

And of course, Maher has absolutely nothing to do with the problems the GOP admits to having with actual voters. There’s that, too.

GT

March 19th, 2013
8:12 am

Georgia Tech was established to industrialize the state. More than half the present alumni leave the state after graduation, and become the highest paid four year graduate in the country. Can’t get it done in Georgia, no need for our skills, you will find most men and women of Tech middle class, smart and high character, who have to go elsewhere to find their future.

Azazel

March 19th, 2013
8:14 am

yes, republican bashing — don’t stop they have it coming, and a lot more,but sometimes you are too nice.

Jerome Horwitz

March 19th, 2013
8:16 am

Listened to Michael Savage once. He was defending Joe McCarthy. And he calls liberalism a mental disorder. LMFAO!

Cherokee

March 19th, 2013
8:16 am

“try to get everybody in the country employed by the government”

You folks just don’t even try to tie your beliefs to reality, do you? At a time when private sector employment is booming, and public sector employment is falling, the fact that someone would make this kind of statement just boggles the mind.

And you wonder why Republicans will keep losing….

UNCLE SAMANTHA

March 19th, 2013
8:18 am

Inside many liberals is a totalitarian screaming to get out. They don’t like to have another point of view in the room that they don’t squash and the way they try to squash it is by character assassination and name calling. — David Horowitz

stands for decibels

March 19th, 2013
8:21 am

Inside many liberals is a totalitarian

and by “many” he means “my mommie and daddy who were commies and I, at 74, continue to blame them for my inadequacies wahh wahh wahhhh!”

heading upstairs.

indigo

March 19th, 2013
8:24 am

When the GOP talks about “tone”, what they really mean is “smokescreen”.

They want to fool gays, Hispanics, Blacks and women into believing the Party has changed when, in reality, no fundemental changes will ever happen.

The Party will rely on their corporate sponsors in the Advertising Industry to furnish the brainwashing and propagnada techniques needed to implement these lies.

Stevie Ray

March 19th, 2013
8:27 am

UNCLE SAMANTHA

March 19th, 2013
8:18 am

A bit rash if you want to dig deeper here. Totalitarian? Socialists I think at worst, perhaps something akin to a light version of civilization as portrayed in Fountain Head or Atlas Shrugged but IMO that particular label is not appropriate.

One has to have individual freedom to avoid totalitarianism. Seems to me the liberals are more interested in wealth redistribution and freedom of personal choice on human rights matters as opposed to surrendering all freedoms..

Hyperbole perhaps?

Escaped from Email Purgatory

March 19th, 2013
8:27 am

“Those who need help are by definition not deserving of it. And those who are deserving of it clearly don’t need it.:

Somebody call a chiropractor. I think Bookman bent over backwards and pulled himself up between his own legs composing logic that twisted.

Bookman, you have boundless creative energy when it comes to finding flaw in not only the message and philosophy, but the character of conservatives.

We live in an era where there is no “offense” too slight to ignore. Racism, homophobia, misogyny, even a war on children, for crissakes, are inferred from the most benign of comments.

So “binders” make the GOP women haters. Cutting funding for PBS reveals a hatred of Big Bird and children. And the intemperate “47%” statement betrays a “sneering lack of respect” for folks who don’t pay taxes.

Oh, what drama. Get the smelling salts! STAT! Bookman’s on his fainting couch again. Righteous indignation is hard on a person’s constitution.

Stevie Ray

March 19th, 2013
8:30 am

indigo

March 19th, 2013
8:24 am

I think it is safe to say the DEMS history of developing financial dependence on government has done more to trap and demean those are traditional recipients (mostly white). I’d like to see those folks revolt and realize they are getting the ultimate hosing from dems…dependence breeds dependence

UNCLE SAMANTHA

March 19th, 2013
8:37 am

Stevie
I think the point Mr. Horowitz was referring to was more in a personal thought manner than in a politcal way. Notice how they demonize points of view that differ than their own. In their world it is unacceptable to hold a differing point of view because it is WRONG. Now this too occurs with those on the right but not to the extent from the left.

For example many Christians do not believe homosexuality is acceptable, but they do not go around preaching against it or condeming homosexuals. They merely hold a belief and a point of view. But a Liberal will demonize them for that belief never accepting that there is no RIGHT or WRONG on the subject. Liberals believe they are RIGHT so therefore anyone believing different it should be punished. Just the same as those far-Right nuts.

JKL2

March 19th, 2013
8:54 am

kamchak- The party of handouts says, “What?”. Haliburton says, “What?”

I don’t know. What did Haliburton say?

Did you go to the joe mama school of “adding smiley faces at the end of my sentence makes me credible”?